Sol e Luna has been a Kigali favourite since opening its doors way back in 2001 and I’m one of their biggest fans. I wrote a rave review in January 2011 so I’d say it’s about time for an update! Happily, not much has changed with this place except the owner’s kids have grown up and they’re sometimes found helping out at this family-run place. But otherwise, things are as they always have been and that’s excellent news because, why mess with a good thing?
My experience with Sol e Luna during my early days in Kigali was always pizza, beer, quiz. Their Monday quiz night was basically my only social outing back when I first arrived and didn’t know many people. Sad, I know, but it was a life-saver and I actually ended up making plenty of friends through quiz so it served its purpose! Plus I got to eat some delicious pizza and become familiar with Mutzig and Primus. So if you want to see the highest concentration of white people at a restaurant in Africa, head to Sol e Luna on a Monday for quiz night.
I think most expats in the city have participated at one point or another and it’s usually a fun night out, though it depends a lot on the quality of that evening’s quiz. The questions are set by the previous week’s winning team and some people do a much better job than others. The team that set a smell round? Awesome. The team that had an entire round of 5+ questions on Belgian tennis? Way less awesome. Quiz runs between 7 and 9pm and there’s usually a maximum team size of 6 people. If you’re hungry, get your order in early!
Or if you want to avoid having to wait forever for your meal and have no interest in impressing your friends with your vast amounts of useless knowledge, make sure you avoid Monday nights at all costs. If you absolutely must eat there on a Monday, get there before 7:30pm (when the rush of quiz orders will be placed) and ask for a seat on the non-quizzy side of the restaurant.
The pizza menu at Sol e Luna is both impressing and intimidating. At last count (yes, I counted) they had 85 pizzas to choose from which can make ordering a somewhat stressful experience. I find myself feeling overwhelmed every time I look at the menu and end up ordering the exact same thing every time (the Diavola with added pineapple, because I’m sure you were wondering). For the size of the pizza, prices are reasonable but not cheap and prices range from Rwf 5,500 for a margarita up to a whopping Rwf 36,000 for the Sapore del Mare which has mussels and king prawns. So if you want to pay $40 for a pizza, this is your place! Most pizzas are in the Rwf 6,000 to Rwf 9,000 range which is a great deal considering how big they are.
I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that Sol e Luna have the best pizza in town. Yep, I said it. There are many pretenders out there but this place is the real deal. I think it’s something to do with the base of their pizza. Most places seem to have the same base that is reminiscent of something pulled from a freezer, but Sol e Luna has big, thin, bubbly, crispy pizza bases that sets it aside.
If the pizza menu is too traumatizing, you could flip past to the rest of the food which is mostly Italian but with a mix of other stuff. For me, this is where things get interesting. Their menu is enormous and I haven’t had a chance to sample too many different things because I’m boring and tend to stick with the same dishes. Their Caprese salad (Rwf 7,500) is one of my favourite dishes in Kigali and, though they’re a bit skimpy on the basil, they’ll bring out extra if you ask. The mozzarella has to be homemade because it’s really wonderful. Not of the rubbery horrid stuff that can be found elsewhere. The Caprese salad is a risky dish but order from Sol e Luna with confidence, my friends!
I’m also a huge fan of their eggplant Parmesan (‘Melanzane alla Parmigiana’ on the menu for Rwf 5,900) which is saying a lot since I don’t really like eggplant. This dish often features prominently in their excellent Italian lunch buffet that runs between noon and 3pm during the week (except for Mondays). At Rwf 10,500 it’s more expensive that your average Rwanda buffet, but it really is packed with delicious things and I think it’s totally worth it. Plus you can go up several times so there’s no need to pile your plate high one time with some amazing food-related feat of engineering. I think it’s nice to have a buffet option for Italian food as a change to the ubiquitous Rwandan offerings that are delicious, but can get a be a bit boring after awhile.
The last time I was at Sol e Luna my friend ordered the ‘Soleluna’ salad (Rwf 5,500) which is made up of goat cheese, capers, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, and arugula. She’s a big fan of this salad but her only complaint was that there may have been too much cheese. From my point of view, too much goat cheese is not possible. I can’t fathom how that would ever be an issue and I’ve come to the conclusion that, perhaps, my friend is bonkers. But my point is… if you like a cheese-heavy salad then this could be the one for you. Top tip, though… it’s a lot larger if you order it at the restaurant than if you get it delivered.
If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, Sol e Luna has a good selection of desserts that go well with a coffee or glass of wine. I’m partial to their gigantic chocolate mousse (Rwf 4,900) which is definitely enough for two or even three people to share and still be satisfied. Their chocolate souffle (Rwf 4,900) is also quite good and they’ve also got tiramisu (Rwf 5,200) and several other tasty choices including a decent selection of ice cream.
Except for on quiz Mondays when the servers are run off their feet, the service is excellent and the food comes out fairly quickly. As I mentioned, Monday’s require a bit more patience because the place is usually packed out. One of my favourite things about Sol e Luna is the design of the restaurant. It’s in a really unique building that’s open on most sides with a wonderful view. The brick and wood work in the design is something that’s a bit different to typical Kigali buildings and it really gives Sol e Luna a homey and authentically Italian feel, especially in the bar area. My favourite part is the tree that is seemingly growing up through the restaurant. Its canopy gives some shade to the middle section at Sol e Luna and it really is a beautiful, if a bit leafy, feature.
Sol e Luna really is one of Kigali’s best spots and I’m slightly angry at myself for not coming here more often because I always have a wonderful meal and a lovely overall experience. If you haven’t tried it yet, go! If you haven’t been in awhile, go back soon!
Hours: Monday, 6pm – Midnight, Tuesday to Sunday, Noon – Midnight
Phone: 0788 859 593